Frequently Asked Questions
What is informatics?
I thought informatics was just
anything related to computer technology. It isn't?
the difference between informatics and information technology?
What is bioinformatics?
I am a dental researcher, and
I have a hard time picturing how informatics could help me with my research
help me obtain more funding for my dental research projects?
What do informaticians know?
What are the major unsolved dental research
Doesn't biomedical informatics
take care of all computational issues in biomedical research? Why do we
need dental informatics?
- What is informatics?
- Informatics is a research discipline focused on developing new concepts,
models and methods for computers and information processing. It draws
on a broad range of related disciplines, such as computer and information
science, cognitive science and telecommunications.
- I thought
informatics was just anything related to computer technology. It isn't?
- One of the most common misconceptions is that informatics encompasses
anything related to computers, hardware or software. Informatics is
a research discipline, while information technology (IT) is more of
a supporting technology. Informatics is concerned with how computer
technologies and information models can be made to work better or more
efficiently. Information technology (IT), on the other hand, is mainly
focused on making existing, off-the-shelf hardware and software work
for individuals and/or organizational environments. There are some areas
of overlap, especially in software development and evaluation.
- What's the difference between
informatics and information technology?
- Informatics is a research discipline. Its output sometimes is used
in information technology (IT). For instance, a medical informatician
would figure out how to design and develop a new expert system for the
diagnosis of skin diseases. An IT person, on the other hand, would take
this product, implement it in a production environment, and make sure
that users can work with it.
- What is bioinformatics?
- Bioinformatics is a subdiscipline of biomedical informatics exclusively
focused on genetic and proteomic research questions. While it is a very
new and hot research area, one has to acknowledge that it conceptually
constitutes only a very small part of the biomedical informatics research
enterprise. Other focal areas in biomedical informatics include structural
(or imaging) informatics, clinical informatics and public health informatics
(see Shortliffe EH, Johnson SB, Medical Informatics Training and Research at Columbia University).
- I am a
dental researcher, and I have a hard time picturing how informatics could
help me with my research problems.
- Many dental research problems, on the surface, might have little relationship
to informatics. Instead, often the fact that a research project might
require information technology (IT) support might be the primary concern.
However, to an informatician, a dental research project might present
several informatics-related questions and issues. The easiest way to find
out whether a dental research project has informatics implications is
to ask a biomedical informatician with broad background and experience.
- Can informatics help me
obtain more funding for my dental research projects?
- Potentially. For one, a good informatics component might make your project
look more attractive and well-developed to the funding agency. Second,
addressing an important informatics problem in the course of a dental
research project will not only help you, but also others who might be
grappling with similar issues. Third, there is a chance that a standalone
informatics project might be spun off from your original project. Lastly,
working together with informaticians shows your commitments to interdisciplinary
work--another asset in the eyes of reviewers.
- What do informaticians
- Informaticians come with very different knowledge and sets of skills.
First of all, informaticians who have graduated from high-quality training
programs tend to have completed MS or PhD degrees in biomedical informatics.
Second, where they completed their informatics training largely determines
which areas they are strongest in. Good training programs tend to be strong
in a few areas (such as artificial intelligence, clinical informatics
applications, cognitive science or bioinformatics), while at the same
time delivering good basic foundational training in biomedical informatics.
- What are the major unsolved
dental research problems?
- Dental research problems generally range from the universally applicable
- such as the mediation of infection and the progression of cancer - to
the very specific - such as the replacement/regeneration of dental hard
tissues, or the effects of specific genetic defects on the development
of the craniofacial complex. Chapter 7 of the ADA's Future of Dentistry
Report (Dental and Craniofacial Research) provides a good overview of
the current issues in dental and craniofacial research.
biomedical informatics take care of all computational issues in biomedical
research? Why do we need dental informatics?
- Biomedical informatics is a canonic term that encompasses all informatics
fields in biomedicine. Among those are dental informatics, medical informatics,
nursing informatics and pharmacology informatics, to name just a few.
All these disciplines share a large body of common methods and concepts.
For instance, expert systems in dentistry and nursing might both use neural
networks as their inferencing mechanism. While the concept of the neural
network used in both systems is the same, the content and functions of
the systems will be quite different.